Newly appointed Defense Minister Aliyu Gusau has resigned.
Mr. Gusauâ€™s sudden decision to quit President Goodluck Jonathanâ€™s cabinet arose from what the former minister considered an act of insubordination and indiscipline from Nigeriaâ€™s top military brass.
Several sources at the Defense Ministry told SaharaReporters that Nigeriaâ€™s top military officers yesterday refused to have a joint meeting with Mr. Gusau and his deputy, Musikilu Obanikoro, a former senator.
Sources at the ministry told SaharaReporters that Nigeriaâ€™s top military henchmen kept Mr. Gusau waiting for two days after he summoned them to a meeting, with different military service chiefs making excuses for their inability to meet with him and his deputy immediately. Finally, the situation turned testy yesterday when, after keeping Mr. Gusau and Mr. Obanikoro waiting for several hours, the Chief of Defense Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, showed up alone for a meeting.
â€œWhen Air Marshal Badeh showed up, the Minister of Defense told him he was expecting all the chiefs of staff within the military, but Badeh reportedly told him there was no need,â€ said one source at the ministry. Our sources added that Badeh also told Mr. Gusau that he alone would be meeting with the minister as the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), stating that this arrangement was the collective decision of military officers in the country.
One source said an attempt by the junior minister of defense, Mr. Obanikoro, to intervene was rudely brushed aside as Badeh asked him to â€œshut up.â€ â€œAir Marshal Badeh is said to have called Senator Obanikoro a â€˜small boyâ€™ and warned him that the military was not going to be taking orders anymore from bloody civilians like him,â€ one source stated.
Soon after the altercation, General Gusau (rtd) reportedly ended the meeting and asked the Permanent Secretary in the ministry to transmit his letter of resignation to President Goodluck Jonathan.
SaharaReporters learnt that Mr. Jonathan, who was rattled by the development, immediately charged Senate President David Mark with the task of prevailing on Mr. Gusau to rescind his resignation. The president reportedly promised to see that the issue was resolved expeditiously.
However, a source stated that Mr. Gusau remained infuriated and refused to back away from his decision to leave the cabinet. Late last night, President Jonathan paid a visit to Mr. Gusauâ€™s home in Abuja in a last-ditch effort to persuade him to stay at his ministerial job, but Mr. Gusau refused to see the president.
Mr. Gusau kept away from todayâ€™s session of the Federal Executive Council, a weekly meeting of all ministers with the president. He reportedly told aides that he could not serve in a situation where military officers would show open disdain for their civilian leaders and him an experienced retired military man.
SaharaReporters contacted Mr. Obanikoro who admitted obliquely that there was what he termed a â€œslight disagreement,â€ but added that there was nothing serious.
An aide to Senator David Mark told SaharaReporters that Mr. Gusau had sent his letter of resignation to the Senate, which confirmed him after his nomination. The source added, however, that Mr. Mark had refused to have the resignation letter read because the senator was still hopeful of convincing Mr. Gusau to remain at his post.